GEELONG has produced one of its most convincing displays of the season, the Cats securing a crucial away victory with a 23-point win over Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
The Cats withstood a fierce barrage from Port Adelaide early and powered home in the last term, running out 14.8 (92) to 11.3 (69) winners for their sixth victory of the season.
The Power dropped to 5-6 with the defeat, and lost at Adelaide Oval for the fourth time this season. The loss continued the Power’s horror run against Geelong, the Cats winning for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings between the sides.
Josh Caddy (26 disposals, two goals) and Cameron Guthrie (23 touches, one goal) led a Geelong midfield brigade which was frequently damaging with its pace and ball use.
Mark Blicavs racked up plenty of possessions in the midfield, pinch-hit as a ruckman (20 hitouts) after Rhys Stanley left the game with a foot injury, and led the match in tackles with 12.
Veteran Corey Enright was superb in the backline for Geelong, racking up 29 touches and setting up Geelong's forward entries with his rebound work, while Tom Hawkins was well held by Alipate Carlile, but kicked two crucial goals.
The win came at a cost for the Cats, with veteran James Kelly subbed off halfway through the first quarter after colliding awkwardly with Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines and twisting his right ankle.
The Cats' stocks were depleted further when Stanley (two goals, 17 disposals, 24 hitouts) was sidelined late in the third term after a magnificent first half.
Geelong coach Chris Scott praised his side's efficiency and decision-making.
"I thought it was just good solid footy, making the right decision at the right time that got us over the line," Scott said.
“It was really pleasing for us to find a way to win, and even more so with some of our younger, more unheralded players [performing].
“Guys like Josh Walker, Josh is not really a ruckman but he looked like one tonight – it was really positive.
“Every game that you can scrape over the line in helps keep you in contention."
Port Adelaide paid a heavy price for failing to capitalise on a dominant period to start the second half, where it had the first seven inside 50s of the third term but could manage just one goal.
The Power were held below 70 points for the sixth time in 11 games this season after scoring more than 70 points in all but three games in 2014.
Chad Wingard threatened to win the game off his own boot with four goals and a spectacular mark in the third term, while Brad Ebert and Robbie Gray led the side in disposals with 28 apiece.
Port was frequently sloppy with its disposal out of their defensive 50, allowing Geelong to pounce on the loose ball and hit the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Coach Ken Hinkley said his side allowed the Cats to play the game on their terms.
“They were just too good for us on the night in some key areas of their game,” Hinkley said.
“Their experienced defenders collectively just played the game the way they wanted to play – they don’t rely on one or two down there.
“Their method away from contest was very good – ours was untidy.”
Earlier, the Cats took a seven-point lead into the main break in a frenetic first half played with rabid, finals-like intensity.
Geelong looked to take the game on at every opportunity, and while the Cats leaked three goals from turnovers in their defensive 50 in the first quarter, their high-risk strategy paid off in the second term, taking the lead with a three-goal run either side of quarter-time.
Stanley’s athleticism caused the Power plenty of headaches in the first half with 14 disposals and two goals, while Gray was industrious in the midfield for the hosts, and Wingard always looked threatening up forward.
While the Cats lost Kelly early, the Power were forced to make a premature change of their own before the main break, speedster Matt White subbed out of the game with a right hamstring injury in the second term. Hinkley said the 28-year-old could miss up to a month of football.
Steven Motlop had plenty to celebrate as Geelong won its sixth game for the year. Picture: AFL Media
PORT ADELAIDE 5.2 7.3 10.3 11.3 (69)
GEELONG 5.1 8.4 12.7 14.8 (92)
Port Adelaide: Wingard 4, Gray 2, Westhoff 2, Boak, Monfries, Schulz
Geelong: Kersten 2, Stanley 2, Caddy 2, Motlop 2, Hawkins 2, Gregson, Johnson, Guthrie, Lang
Port Adelaide: Wingard, Gray, Wines, Broadbent, Ebert, Carlile
Geelong: Enright, Caddy, Stanley, Guthrie, Blicavs, Stokes
Port Adelaide: White (hamstring)
Geelong: Kelly (ankle), Stanley (foot)
Port Adelaide: Matt White replaced by Aaron Young in the second quarter
Geelong: James Kelly replaced by Shane Kersten in the first quarter
Umpires: Nicholls, Foot, Pannell
Official crowd: 47,058 at Adelaide Oval